Feeling overwhelmed with life is a slippery slope to stress, anxiety and low self-confidence. When you just sit with stress and it doesn’t get addressed, it eventually takes its toll on your body, your physical and mental health, your love life, your family life, career, everything. And if you’re a woman starting a business on your own, feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed can be part of the deal.
An Overwhelmed Mumpreneur
This was the case for Sara* (not her real name) who came to see me for some coping strategies for ongoing feelings of overwhelm that she’d been silently struggling with on her own. Sara had been in Sydney for almost a year, having moved here with her husband and 2 children after a long term stint living overseas. They had moved several times over the last few years because of her husband’s career.
Sara’s love of travel and living in different parts of the world had now turned to debilitating feelings of stress and overwhelm around the day to day requirements of life and setting up in a new place. She was stuck in a cycle of overwhelm that she didn’t know how to get out of. Routine things like doing the school drop off were becoming harder each day. Sara would spend ages deliberating over what to wear, how she looked, and ran through endless scenarios in her head around how she imagined she was being viewed by other people. She started to avoid talking to the other Mums when she dropped her kids at school, because she felt so bad about herself.
Sara had put her career on hold to be a full time Mum and was now in the process of starting a business working from home. But she was increasingly feeling overwhelmed with all of the things she needed to do. She was constantly comparing herself to other women who in her eyes were more confident, attractive and accomplished. Sara was trying to be the perfect mother and wife and build a successful business. But she wasn’t getting far in her new venture because of the endless self doubt and emotional burnout that was arising from the enormous pressure she had been placing on herself in just about every area of her life.
By the time Sara came to see me her confidence and self esteem had hit an all time low. Feeling overwhelmed had become a part of her daily life.
What became immediately clear was that Sara had over time let go of all of her self-care routines.
The Crux Of The Issue: Sara had routines and schedules set up for everyone else – except for herself.
Increasingly Sara had put everyone’s needs before her own. Her entire focus was on trying to be the ultimate mother and wife – and build a successful business. Sara’s expectations around perfectionism and success were like huge weights that she was carrying around 24×7. She’d lost connection with who she was before she got married and started a family – and starting her own business was her way of starting to reconnect with other parts of herself. But Sara had forgotten all about the day to day things that nourished and fulfilled her on a more personal level.
Regular self-care had been permanently put on the backburner and when this happens over long periods of time, stress and overwhelm begin to take over.
To fix this, one of the first priorities was coming up with daily and weekly self-care routines to address Sara’s overwhelm and reconnect her with her centre.
5 Things You Can Do To Get Out Of Overwhelm
These are the 5 things I got Sara to implement straight away that quickly turned her life around:
1. Establish A Morning Routine
Sara had been at the beck and call of her family for years. We looked at her carving time out for herself each day and getting a morning routine in place to set the tone for the rest of the day. For Sara, this was starting her day with 30 minutes of gentle yoga stretches, followed by a short meditation to ground and connect in with her centre, and simply observe whatever thoughts and feelings arose during this time.
2. Practice Mindfulness In Daily Life
Instead of always rushing to get things done, we looked at ways Sara could use mindfulness to be more in the present moment and feel less time-pressured, instead of continually fast forwarding into the future which was totally stressing her out. This included using mindfulness techniques and slowing down when eating, drinking, walking, and driving in the car, viewing delays as opportunities to stop, breathe more deeply, and relax.
3. Exercise Regularly
Sara used to swim so she scheduled in a morning each week for doing laps in the local pool. I also encouraged Sara to go to a weekly restorative yoga class to get her out of the home, relax and be in a different space.
4. Share Your Thoughts And Feelings
When you’re feeling overwhelmed you need to get out of your head. For Sara this meant scheduling date nights with her husband (which had fallen by the wayside) and making new friends. Sara needed to connect with the people that mattered in her life on a more intimate level and talk about what was on her mind. This included taking a risk and reaching out to some of the other women she had been so busy comparing herself to. Talking about your inner most thoughts and feelings with people you trust is a powerful way to reality check your fears and doubts, get fresh perspectives, and feel more supported and connected. It’s also a great way to tap into other people’s worlds and discover that they too can feel overwhelmed and insecure.
5. Establish A Calming Evening Routine
Like lots of people trying to deal with feeling overwhelmed, Sara was sitting up late at night when everyone else had gone to bed watching crime shows, late night news and drinking wine to unwind. She was overstimulating her nervous system watching TV late at night and at the same time trying to anaesthetize all of those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that come with being overwhelmed. Which is a no-win situation. Wine regularly consumed, particularly late at night, is a depressant and disrupts the quality of your sleep. And so does spending hours zoned out in front of a computer screen or late night TV. We replaced this with a calming evening routine to prepare Sara for sleep. This included listening to relaxing music instead of watching TV and meditating for 15 minutes before going to sleep. Having a bath before bed is also good to include in your evening routine if you can as it helps you finish the day in a deeply relaxing and restorative way and prepares you for quality sleep.
The Outcome: How Sara Turned Her Life Around
Within a few weeks of following this routine, Sara noticed a huge difference. She felt more confident and optimistic about her life and was far less overwhelmed and stressed. We could then identify and address some of the core beliefs that had been driving Sara’s overwhelm.
Over the time I saw Sara, her relationship with her husband and children also improved. She was able to be more in the moment, her sense of humour returned, and she had more energy and clearer focus, because she was taking care of herself. Sara’s social life turned around too. She finally started to build new friendships and network with women who shared similar interests. Interestingly, by adding in her own routines, this gave Sara MORE time in her day for the things that really mattered. She was far more focused and productive. Sara was no longer feeling so overwhelmed by life and that she had to sort everything out on her own.
Adding one or all of these 5 things to your daily and weekly routine will get you out of overwhelm and change your life in positive ways too. One of my favourite reads on getting more into the present moment and out of overwhelm is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
For more hands-on practical tips to deal with overwhelm and stress:
It’s always worth the effort sorting out your overwhelm issues. The biggest turning point for anyone on the path to a bigger life and more success is asking for help and not trying to do everything on your own.
SEE ALSO: Change Solutions – Personal Development
If you’re fed up with feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed and want a happier, more stress free and productive life email me at email@example.com to book an appointment.
*All identifying features, including names, have been changed in this case study to protect the privacy of my client.